GREECE: Owners attempt to exploit state sector cuts

One would not have to be a guru to predict that the recent austerity measures affecting the state sector, and imposed by the government at the behest of the European Union, would inevitably have an impact on the private one.

Owners of private education institutions have been accused of attempting to apply the state sector's severe reductions in wages and salaries to their own employees.

Teachers and lecturers have reported to their respective unions that some private schools and institutes have tried cutting salaries in line with those imposed in the state sector.

The supervising services of the Education Ministry were alerted and immediately carried out a series of inspections to ascertain whether there was any substance to the accusations.

Simultaneously, a Ministry of Education document went to education directors pointing out that any cuts in wages or salaries were against the current legislation. The document asked that checks be made to ascertain the law was upheld and inform the ministry's services accordingly.

The ministry's reaction was calculated to send a message to the companies operating private education not to act as a 'Trojan horse' in attempting to impose conditions only applicable to the state sector, that is to refrain from using the country's fiscal difficulty as an opportunity to reduce their costs and increase their profits - and to the workers who threatened to seek recourse to the courts.

President of the Federation of Private Teachers Associations, Michael Kouroutos, stated: "If the decision of the Association of Private Institutes to reduce the salaries of their employees in line with the cuts in the state sector is applied, it will sweep away all the collective agreements in the private sector which are tied to wages and salaries in the state sector and will influence the income of thousands of working people in our country."